Attractions in Samburu County
Rising to 1,328 ms in the spacey mezzanine of Suguta Valley is the active shield volcano of Emuruangogolok, which has a 4 kms caldera summit. It last erupted in 1910 – making it one of the lattter-day volcanic-activities in Kenya. To date, steam vents and fumarolic activity at the summit caldera of Emuruangogolak and on the flanks of the volcano are still active, as seen in its fissures. There are several tiny lakes near the site that vary in size depending on seasonality of rain.
30. Kirisia Forest
This is situated in the southeast area of Samburu County along C77 Nyahururu-Baragoi Road, north of the Laikipia Plateau, east of Kisima and Maralal Towns, and west of Barsaloi. In area Kirisia is about 800 km2 and was gazetted in 1933 as one of Kenya’s first forest reserves. The central features are its precipitous mountain country with woodland and thick gallery and highland meadows. The north facing side forms steep slopes with a shell of sheer granitic bare rock faces and deep seasonal river valleys while the northwest section sunders with sheer drops making up a part of the eastern wall of Losiolo Escarpment. In contrast, the southeast area gradually rolls down to merge with the flats of Leroghi Plains extending into Laikipia County. Thanks to its higher elevation, Kirisia serves as a lively water catchment receptacle and the headwaters for many streams that supply numerous communities including Maralal; the headquarters of Samburu County. During the dryer season it forms an important refuge for the Samburu’s livestock as well as an important water channels to seasonal lugga’s in the areas between Kirisia and Mathews Range. Kirisia Forest is also a significant wildlife habitat and hosts species like elephant, cape buffalo, bushbuck, bush pig, giant forest hog, warthog, lion, and varied monkey species. The birds and insects are seemly represented including Hartlaubs touraco – possibly the most dominant species in the forest – as well as, tambourine dove, martial eagles, and sunbirds.
31. Ngari Hill Ecolodge
Set between Kirisia Forest and Maralal, atop Ngari Hill, this homey guesthouse at the heart of Samburu County offers the choice to camp or rent a neat banda. They offers a choice of three kinds of bandas; standard, superior and exclusive. There is an option of crawl-in tents in their generous camping ground serviced with amenities like running water and washrooms; and what many say is the best way to experience Northern Kenya and delight in the warm sun. Travellers to Ngari Hill Ecolodge can enjoy memorable camel-back safaris in the company of local Samburu guides, day excursions to the Malaso Viewpoint, exploring the low-lying Suguta Valley or hiking at Kirisia Forest. Ngari Hills Guesthouse is located 358 kms from Nairobi via Nyahururu and 2.1 kms east of Maralal Town.
32. Maralal Game Reserve
The defunct Maralal National Reserve regrettably wound down in 2014 by the Samburu Government, subsequent to the eradication of wildlife by poaching, has since been absorbed by Maralal Town. The area which was once the Maralal Game Reserve is still a prepossessing landscape and the Maralal Safari Lodge, located 3 kms east from Maralal Town and fully renovated in 2015, continues to thrive. Some noteworthy areas of interest located nearby are Kenyatta House Museum 1 kms from Maralal, and the Malaso Viewpoint 100 kms from Maralal.
33. Yale Camel Camp
The popular Yale Cultural Camp, revered both as a cultural resort and campsite, located at the heart of Samburu pastoralists community nearby Maralal, is best known for hosting the Maralal International Camel Derby. The main interest at Yale Camp is preserving the Samburu’s cultural heritage. For accommodation, it has a campsite and 15 self-contained cabins, with a rustic on-site restaurant, lounge and garden. There is plenty to do at Yale Camel Camp including guided walks and camel safaris, cultural tourism, its culture museum and birding. Yale Camel Camp is conveniently placed just 2 kms south of the main Maralal Town.
34. Maralal Camel Derby
The three day Maralal Camel Derby, held yearly between August 24th and 26th, is an exuberant social affair and the major event on the Maralal Calendar. Now a weighty calendar event in Kenya aptly showcasing the diversity of not only the thrilling cultures in Samburu but of the unexplored places and many economic opportunities in Northern Kenya, it held its 29th Edition at Yare Camel Camp, the traditional venue, in 2018. The showstoppers at the festival are the 10 kms camel race and the ‘fun triathlon’ of running, biking and camel riding. It was kick-started as a way of reconciling the communities in Samburu County that were eternally warring. As such the event is also graced by traditional songs and dances. The last day the festival carries several activities like the professional camel marathon race, the black mamba bike race, and an eclat award ceremony.
35. Kenyatta House, Maralal
“It is at Kenyatta House, in what is eke-named the Runda of Maralal, the leafy suburbs of Samburu, that Independence was negotiated.” On top of that: “Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was confined here for one-and-a-half years after his arrest in Kapenguria. He lived here with his young family when the negotiations for Independence from the British rulers were being made. Mzee authored his book while facing Mount Kenya through one window there, hence the book title.” – S. Murumba. Originally built as a residence for a senior British officer working in Samburu, a 3-bedroom bungalow raised on 28 acres nearby Maralal, it became the unconditional residence for Kenya’s first president – then a detainee of the colonial forces between April 1960 and August 1961 – after his transfer from Lodwar House in Marsabit for alleged involvement with Mau Mau. In any case, the winds of change were signaling a new dawn for independent Kenya and, not long after his life here, Jomo Kenyatta went on to take the helm as President of Kenya, relocating to a stately mansion built at his hometown of Gatindu by the Colonial Government. It was also at Kenyatta House that Uhuru M. Kenyatta, Kenya’s 4th president, was conceived. This is located 1 km from Maralal Town.